Getting Started - Week 3: Suggestions for Fly Rod and Reel Set-Ups and | OFF Fly Shop

Getting Started - Week 3: Suggestions for Fly Rod and Reel Set-Ups and a Starter Fly Box

| in Getting Started, Greg Speers |

 This weeks entry of Getting Started - Fly Fishing for Trout on Southern Alberta Rivers will be focused on what newer fly anglers options are for Fly Rod and Reel outfits, as well as suggestions for what flies to put in your starter fly box. Let’s take a look at some fly rod outfits first.

 We briefly touched on this in week 1 but the barrier to entry for fly fishing has lowered with the introduction of high quality, moderately priced fly rods. We will start by looking at the option easiest on the budget, and then talk about a small upgrade  which will give you access to some higher quality components.

 Most fly shops will carry a kit that contains a rod, reel and fly line that you can pick up off the shelf and take right out to the water and fish. Orvis, Echo, Redington and TFO as well as many other rod manufacturers produce these packages and they are usually at the $200 - $300 price point. The rods in these packages are usually the company's entry level offerings and while they dont have the finishing or some of the space age materials of higher end rods, they are in the same ballpark performance wise which is saying something when you consider that sometimes they are 1/10 the price. The rod in the Echo Base kit even comes with a lifetime warranty!

 Where you may find you are sacrificing a bit is in the Reel and Fly line department. Reels on trout sized fly rods are mostly used to hold excess fly line and backing, there will be many fish you land on the fly where you won’t even use your reel and just strip the fish in by hand instead. With this in mind when choosing your equipment, you definitely want to be putting most of your money into the Rod and the Line. The small problem is that these kits almost always come with a composite reel, which is just a fancy way of saying plastic. They will do the job of holding your fly line, but often have components in the drag system that wear more quickly than higher end Aluminum reels. The composite material is also more prone to being damaged when dropped or impacted than an Aluminum reel would be. The Composite reels included in these kits usually do not come with a warranty.

 The fly lines included in these package are usually the demo style lines of the company that produced them. Like the reels they are functional, but you are definitely sacrificing some performance over high end fly lines. The fly lines included in these kits usually do not come with a warranty.

 These kits are great and many anglers may never feel the need to upgrade from this type of set-up. The rod is the great value here and in most cases you will use it as your primary rod or as a backup for years to come. As you improve as a fly angler the first thing you are most likely going to want to upgrade is the reel and fly line in these kits.

 If you have a little bit more to spend there is a great opportunity to upgrade the Reel and Fly Line. This upgraded set-up is the one I recommend to all new anglers that come into the fly shop looking to get started. For $300 - $400 you can get one of those great entry level rods we spoke about earlier, like the Echo Base or Orvis Encounter and pair it with an aluminum reel and guide quality fly line.

 For that extra $100 you spent instead of getting the kit, you can get an Aluminum reel that is much sturdier. The reel will also have better quality drag components that will make the reel last longer, in some case a lot longer. These reels also usually come with a 5 year warranty at minimum, giving you some peace of mind along the way. You also get a guide quality fly line which will make improving your cast easier and will also last longer as it has more technology built into it and better quality materials.

 One last comment about fly rod outfits before we move on to a selection of flies. It's important to cast the rod you are planning on purchasing before you pick it up. Different rods have different actions and will suite certain casting preferences better than others. It's also a great way to have an experienced angler look at your casting stroke and offer some small corrections. The quickest way to start enjoying fly fishing is to become a competent caster!


 To close out this weeks topic we will discuss a starter selection of flies for an Alberta Trout Fly box. When selecting flies size and profile are very important, color is also important as well. You should be focusing on matching your flies size and profile to what you see the Trout feeding on at the surface, or what nymphs you see under rocks in the water you are fishing. Picking up 2 or 3 of each of these will make sure you can handle anything that comes your way in Alberta:


Chenille Worm - Red, Brown #8

Woolly Bugger Leech - Black, Olive #6

Jimmy Legs Stonefly Nymph - Black and Tan #8

Hares Ear Nymph - #14, #16

Pheasant Tail Nymph - #14, #16

Noble Chernobyl Hopper - Tan #8

Adams Dry Fly - #14, #16

BWO Sparkle Dun Dry Fly - #14, #16

Kreelex Minnow Streamer - Silver and Green #4


 Along with your first fly purchase you also will want to pick up a small fly box and a few strike indicators for nymph fishing. All of the patterns mentioned above have been proven over and over again on the Bow and Southern Alberta mountain streams. This selection has Nymphs, Streamers and Dry Fly patterns in it, next week we will talk about each of those techniques and how you can us them to make the best presentation to the Fish you are trying to catch. Tight Lines!